Power & Laughter: What Comedic Performance Can Teach Us About Resistance

May 14, 2024

“It’s a song, but it also has a message.”

In their one-person show, A Crowded Field (2023), Morgan Bassichis provides the audience with a moving, hilarious, and participatory “crash course in the uses and abuses of the Jewish holidays.” Looking candidly at the ways ritual can be used to give cover to violence while refusing to cede to despair, Bassichis creates a sustaining space where a life-affirming Judaism can be imagined and practiced. Join Bassichis along with poet and psychoanalyst Nuar Alsadir and Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg for a discussion about the show, as well as the intersections of activism and comedy across performance and Jewish religious practice. Moderated by Jewish Currents culture editor Claire Schwartz.

We invite you to watch the recording of A Crowded Field before this event. A link to the full performance (with captions) will be available to everyone who registers to attend.

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This live event and its recording will have automated closed captioning. For accommodation requests or questions about accessibility, please reach out to events@jewishcurrents.org.

Morgan Bassichis is a comedian who has been described as “I think an actor but hasn’t been in anything” by their father and “kind of intense” by their mother. They co-edited with Jay Saper and Rachel Valinsky Questions to Ask Before Your Bat Mitzvah (Wendy’s Subway, 2023), an anti-Zionist guidebook for people of all ages. Their book of to-do lists, The Odd Years (2020), was also published by Wendy’s Subway. Their recent exhibition More Little Ditties was presented by the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard and the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. Their performances have been presented by Abrons Arts Center, Danspace Project, the Kitchen, the New Museum, and the Whitney Museum.

Photo by Maria Baranova

Nuar Alsadir is a writer, poet, and psychoanalyst. Her most recent book, Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation (Graywolf Press/Fitzcarraldo Editions), was a TIME Magazine must-read of 2022 and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2022. She is also the author of two poetry collections: Fourth Person Singular, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and More Shadow Than Bird. She is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the curatorial board of The Racial Imaginary Institute.

Photo by Grace Yu

Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg is a teacher, writer, organizer and calendar-maker based on Dakota land in Minneapolis. She is the co-author, alongside Rabbi Ariana Katz, of For Times Such As These: A Radical’s Guide to the Jewish Year, and author of an Introduction to Trauma, Healing and Resilience for Rabbis, Jewish Educators and Organizers. She is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council and is a collective member of the Radical Jewish Calendar project.

Claire Schwartz is the author of the poetry collection Civil Service (Graywolf Press) and the culture editor of Jewish Currents.

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan